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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Federal appeals court decision: 14 crosses erected along Utah roads to commemorate fallen state Highway Patrol troopers betray a state endorsement of Christianity, a position which violates the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling overturns a 2007 decision by a federal district judge that permitted the crosses saying they communicate a culturally familiar and secular message about death and do not suggest a public endorsement of religion.

The ruling is the latest in a series of court decisions weighing in on religion in the public square.

What does the cross signify? For Christians the cross is the dominant symbol of faith. It represents Christ’s sacrificial death to bring us redemption and it also calls us to follow him by laying down our lives in obedience to his call. Yes, the cross does stand for Christianity.

In this, the court of appeals did get their decision right, as much as the 2007 judgment downplayed the obvious Christian connection with the symbol. The argument isn’t whether or now a cross is Christian but whether or not a faith symbol can also carry wider meaning, for a whole culture, a signify a message understandable and respectable to an entire “cross-cultural” nation.

No, there is no stripping the Christian foundation from the foundation of America. Christian symbols and values and ethics and common law are the root of our very civilization. We cannot extricate ourselves from this fact. Many want to deny this reality. But the fact remains, we are a nation anchored in Christian claims of truth, which in itself makes us “cross cultural.” Christian values call for love and gentleness with a bold and no-compromise stance on virtue. Christianity was born in a multi-cultural world. We’re made for that environment, which is why Christianity and America fit like hand in glove.

The court decision got it wrong for the right reason. Yes, crosses mean Christianity. But Christianity is no threat to the constitution or to religious tolerance. The very nature of the “cross” means we lay down our lives in love of Jesus… That’s always been seen as a threat to pagan cultures bound themselves by a fear of death. It’s not our intolerance that is so offensive. It’s our boldness in the face of death… wrapped in our symbol of death itself, the cross.

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